News & Brews April 3, 2024

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Biden’s new rail crew rule is ‘handout’ to unions

Yesterday, the Biden administration issued its final rule mandating a minimum two-person crew on freight trains. The issue re-emerged as a hot one following last year’s derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, Ohio. That train, however, had a three-person crew. Yet, as is common to politicians and special interests, they used the derailment to argue for the mandate. As explains, “… in Washington, the policy-making calculus often relies on fuzzy math that is heavily influenced by the pull of special interests and the strong sense of do-something-ism…. The derailment in East Palestine was bad, and something must be done. This is something, so now it is being done—and bonus points can be scored because doing this specific thing will please the Biden administration’s labor union allies, which have been lobbying the government for years to impose exactly this two-person crew mandate.”

GOP committee to hold energy hearing today 

The House Republican Policy Committee will host a hearing at 10:00 a.m. this morning on “balancing your budget and thermostat.” The hearing is the third in a series of energy hearings on providing affordable and reliable energy to consumers in Pa. You can watch the livestream at 10:00 a.m. here. And check out the summaries of the first two hearings here and here.

Dem lawmakers seek constitutional change to allow progressive taxes in Pa. 

The uniformity clause in Pennsylvania’s state constitution requires that “all taxes” in the commonwealth be “uniform,” meaning the state can’t implement different tax rates or percentages for different classes of people or property. Well, progressive Democrat state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler (Philadelphia) has proposed amending the constitution to repeal this clause so the state and localities can implement targeted tax hikes. As it’s a constitutional amendment, Fiedler’s proposal would need to pass both the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions and then go to voters for approval. As one observer cautioned, “Who knows what types of different taxing schemes the legislature could come up with? Right now, they have the guardrails of the uniformity clause.”

Pa.’s largest annual conservative conference kicks off tomorrow

The annual Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, which is the state’s largest annual gathering of conservative and free-market advocates, will kick off tomorrow in Camp Hill. The event, which runs through Saturday, will feature speakers including national commentators, state elected officials, and candidates for state and national office. Panel topics range from “securing Pennsylvania’ s energy future” and “defending our nation’s borders” to “building an effective grassroots operation” and “expanding education freedom.” See the speaker lineup here, or click here for more information.

Podcast: School choice polling perspectives

A new EdChoice podcast episode recaps the latest surveys of “a nationally representative sample of Americans to get their opinions on topics related to school choice.” (And you can check out more EdChoice podcasts here.)

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